Thoughts about the new MacMini & Lion OS

I'm wondering what audiophiles who use MacMinis as music servers think about the new MMs that do not have an optical drive.

I'm also wondering what audiophiles think about the Lion OS on a MM that's used primarily for audio playback.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

:) listening,

I just downloaded Lion to my iMac. I don't see any obvious impact with iTunes 4 which downloads also.

But there may be something lurking below the surface?
Mach2Music sent this announcement;


Mach2 Music has gone to great lengths to reduce the noise created by OSX in the Mach2 Build. The result is a terrific sounding Music Server. We appreciate our customers and want to take a few minutes to discuss OSX Lion. We have been getting questions about this and want to keep everyone informed.

As you may know, Apple is about to release OSX Lion (version 10.7). This is a paid upgrade ($29) and will be huge in the amount of new code it has. While this new version of OSX will offer most Mac users some interesting new functionality, it will also come with many more background functions turned on (i.e Security, Auto Save, iOS look/feel, etc.) While this may be good for general users, it is not good from a Music Server perspective. We want the Server focusing on the Music, not 250 other things...


If you do upgrade your Mach2 Server, a few things will happen.

1) Many of the Mach2 optimizations will be overwritten/undone.
2) Your Music Server will sound worse.
3) If you need Mach2 to reload your machine, or assist you in doing so, we will have to charge you for a support session.

We are looking at making a Lion build. Honestly, because of the things that have been added to OSX in the Lion release, we are not sure weather we can make it sound as good as OSX Snow Leopard (10.6). If we can make Lion sound as good or better than the current version, we will offer an upgrade to Lion for our previous customers.

We figure it will take a couple of months to explore Lion and make a decision. We will post info on the website if we decide to produce a Mach2 Server with Lion.

Best Regards,
Mach2 Music

How many of these changes effect "stock" Mac Mini servers is not known. I think if your playback is iTunes there is no problem. If it's a custom Mach2 and / or you have aftermarket playback software such as Pure Music and Amarra then probably best to search a bit on the web, maybe Computer Audiophile already has a report. They are way beyond me on this type of info.

As an aside, the word on the street is Mac will release a new version of the Mini by Fall and it will have Thunderbolt, the interface that makes USB and FireWire look like old AOL modem speed.
That new Mini was released today, Albert. That's what the OP was referring to when he mentioned no optical drive. It ships with Lion, of course.
I find the response from Mach2Music a bit odd. I have found through the years that Apple is extraordinary in delivering beta versions of the next gen OS to developers well ahead of public release. It is to everyone's benefit for applications to painlessly port to the next release.

I wonder why Mach2Music didn't already have development under way.

Just sayin.....
I've been running Lion with iTunes and PureMusic for a few hours now. No problems - sound quality unchanged as far as I can tell.

Mach2 has had the Lion development package since Day 1. So far we are happier with the sound of Snow Leopard. The fact that we want to take a couple more months to make the best build possible doesn't mean we haven't been working already.

When I work on these things, I am not just working to please myself, but to make hundreds of people happy, and to make the product as reliable as possible.

Yes, we could release a Lion build today. I just finished adding iTunes 10.4 which was released today. But we prefer to hold off and make it the best Lion build we can. We want it to run not only on the 2010 Mini's, but the 2011 Mini's that won't be in people's hands until tomorrow.

I'm just sayin.... ;-)

P.S. IF you decide to give Lion a try on your Music Server, first shoot a back-up. You may find yourself using it.
@ Meiwan, as you continue to listen with Lion installed, please keep us informed as to your experience and thoughts about that experience. Anyone else who has upgraded to Lion and uses PM or Fidelia, your experience and thoughts are appreciated as well.

:) listening,

I have owned Macs continuously since purchasing my first one in the Spring of 1984. I have always made it a practice to hold off on major OS upgrades until the smoke clears - say in about six months. By the time I load Lion the bugs will be ironed out and software compatibility issues will be resolved.

In the meantime, I think Apple made a mistake dropping the built-in optical drive. There's been a lot of negative buzz today from current Mac mini users, both small business users and home users looking for a Media server. Everyone realizes an outboard drive can be obtained, but a lot of folks loved the Mini's compact form factor. We'll get over it, of course, and Apple will rock on, but short term I think there will be lost sales.

Thanks for the reply and I understand your position. I built a software company from scratch and sold it 10 years later in 1995. There was never a day in my business where I wasn't worried what IBM or Microsoft would do. Back then, we coded underneath, around and through the, most developers code on top of the OS.....digging deeper, such as I suspect you are doing, has it's perils and I have no doubt you are on top of it.

The toughest challenge for a company such as yours is, paraphrasing from your note to your customers quoted above, is that you are now on record wondering aloud whether your product will be available to optimize the Mac Mini that will be on sale from tomorrow on. I am certain, burning the midnight oil, you will successfully overcome the roadblocks you have identified in the new version of OSX because your very survival depends on it. I wish you well in your endeavors and your many happy customers will be thrilled in short order with your new release.

My experience in the industry is so old and not applicable as of this writing that I do not intend to imply I understand your business or the challenges you face in your development cycle. I can attest though that I haven't touched a Microsoft based machine in over a decade and do not ever plan to again. LOL! Strategically though, I'm pretty sure this is the first major OS hurdle your company has faced and you will grow a great deal in the coming months. Best wishes.....just sayin.....


Actually, we are in a good spot. We know we can make the 2011 Mac Mini sound great, just as we have with the 2010 model. What is unclear is that weather that will be done with Lion or Snow Leopard, in the long haul.

The OS is simply an ends to a means. We'll go with whatever sounds best. For now, we prefer Snow Leopard.

It sounds like you have been around the blocks a few times, and I suspect your experience is far more relevant than you humbly state above. After all, the more things change, the more they stay the same...

The good news is that folks here can play with Lion. Just shoot a full backup before you do the Lion install. If in the end you don't like Lion sound quality, restore your current set up. All you are out is $29, and the time. Just be sure YOU know how to restore your Mac...

Try whether next time you write - and not weather.
We know we can make the 2011 Mac Mini sound great, just as we have with the 2010 model. What is unclear is that weather that will be done with Lion or Snow Leopard, in the long haul.
Darrell, the 2011 Mac Mini is not OS backwards compatible. You won't be able to run Snow Leopard on it, at least that's my understanding.
He was talking about unclear weather. Snow in the forecast roaring in like a Lion.

It seems to be fine. I have our Mach2 Music Server (OSX 10.6.8) running on the 2011 Mac Mini. So far, all scripts and players run fine.

We have more testing to do, but initial impression is all is good.

Before folks ask, no I haven't been able to A/B sound test the 2010 mini vs the 2011 mini yet.

Mr. Bill, If you are going to correct someone's spelling, YOU should at least spell their name right. It right there in front of you after all. ;-)


Did your 2011 Mini come with 10.6.8 or Lion?


It came with Lion.

You got me on that one Darrell! :>)

BTW, you guys do some great work on the Mac Mini.
So Darrell, it seems you know how to get around the OS backwards restriction.

Closeouts on the previous Mini are out there now and the price is about the same as the new Mini. Decision tree:

If Lion turns out to be a good thing for music servers, either HW choice is fine but the new Mini has more horsepower, so why not.

If Lion is not good for music servers, or at least initially, then the new Mini only works if I can install Snow Leopard on it.

If I can't install Snow Leopard on it, or if that would void the warranty, then a closeout earlier Mini is probably my best best.

Am I missing something?
Thanks Mr. Bill. We do our best.

Coming from the Vinyl world, we have high sound quality expectations and won't sell anything that we wouldn't use in our own systems.

With that, we are working hard to get the 2011 Mac Mini ready soon. The short listen I got to do at lunch was encouraging.


I think that folks will come to a consensus in a few days as to weather Snow Leopard can be installed on 2011 Mac Mini. Then your your hardware choice may become easy.

Well, we got 3 Mach2 Music Servers setup today. The 2011 does sound better that the 2010, and OSX 10.6.8 will run fine on the 2011 Mini's.

We have 2 on battery power right now, and on running standard. We have found no issues so far.

That sounds like good news, Darrell. And a tip of the cap to you for updating your website already.

Now you need to see what Lion does to things. There have been some reports of meaningfully improved sound from iTunes under Lion, so who knows, it might all turn out well.

Yes, we are all set on the 2011 Mach2 Server. The new Mac Mini is a very good upgrade. I maintain our website so updates can be done quickly. It comes in handy with Apples variable release dates. ;-)

We've been looking at Lion. You see how fast we moved on the 2011 Mac Mini. If we saw benefit from Lion, we'd release a Lion build today.

iTunes probably sounds a bit better with Lion because the latest iTunes release is 64bit, not because of Lion itself.

What ever happened to the Mach boys?
I heard they kicked the bucket...
Mojo Audio appears to be doing a similar thing, except their focus is on the power supply. The software mods, they are putting in an FAQ.